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What pass to buy for train travel

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What pass to buy for train travel

We are hoping to take a train from London to Edinburgh for a 4 night stay. Then hope to do some day trips by rail to Windsor,Oxford, Cambridge etc. I am finding the train ticket prices rather confusing. Should we purchase single tickets or a muti day pass. Please help unravel this for me. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

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Vancouver, Canada
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1. Re: What pass to buy for train travel

Rail fares for UK travel are baffling - there are plenty of potential fares for short and long journeys, and the train companies may not have all of the options to hand. This makes things even more difficult for travellers trying to save a bit and get from point to point.

London to Edinburgh may be cheaper by buying two single fares rather than a return - depending on the time of day you wish to travel. Fares for Windsor aren't bad, as it's more or less on a commuter line; a cheap day return to Oxford costs around £20.

To get the most accurate fares for specific trains, check at www.nationalrail.co.uk. If prices are still high, perhaps a BritRail flex pass, allowing Y number of travel days in X number of calendar days might be what you need. Passes come in First and Standard class formats, and do take the headache of individual ticket booking out of your hands. Have a look at www.britrail.com for more info.

Bingley, United...
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2. Re: What pass to buy for train travel

If you book via GNER about 6 weeks in advance then, with a bit of flexibility from you, you should be paying £12.50 each way.

For the other day trips you mention I believe the tickets are the same price if you book ahead or buy on the day.

London Windsor - £7.70 return

London Oxford - £6 or £8 each way for Firstminutefare Leisure tickets

London Cambridge - £18.50 return

If you can find a railpass to beat those fares then get it

Portland, Oregon USA
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3. Re: What pass to buy for train travel

Google "Rick Steves" and check out his website for good information on railpasses in Britain. He does mention that point-to-point rail prices in Britain are the highest in Europe.

A number of years ago, the rail system in Britain was sold off to private companies. There has been some consolidation over the years, but for the tourist, a confusing number of companies still exist. It was far easier before "privatization" for the tourist with a railpass since you just got on any train with the national rail line logo. Not all rail companies will honor a railpass but most will.

Because the rail trip to Edinburgh takes so much time, I'd always break it up by staying in York. Just so I don't kill a whole day with travel.

Windsor, Oxford, Cambridge and all the great southeast coastal towns are within the "Britrail London Plus Pass" area of validity. It is another new name (they change the name every few years) for the old "Southeast" pass. It is a good value and there are plenty of excellent sights in its area. Don't waste your money on the First Class versions, Standard Class (2nd class) is perfectly fine.

Bingley, United...
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4. Re: What pass to buy for train travel

<<< Because the rail trip to Edinburgh takes so much time, >>>

4h30m at the last count - plus cheap tickets (single or return) don't allow you to break your journey, so you either buy more expensive tickets or separate tickets for each leg.

Personally I'd go to York on the way back from Edinburgh and spend a night there rather than doing a daytrip to either Cambridge or Oxford.

Of course you could continue on from York to Cambridge and overnight in Cambridge before returning to London

London, UK
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5. Re: What pass to buy for train travel

>>>He does mention that point-to-point rail prices in Britain are the highest in Europe.<<<

Yet more false information from Rick Steves. Britain is 2nd after Denmark and once you factor in the train tickets/incomes ratio both of those countries come out somewhere in the middle.

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6. Re: What pass to buy for train travel

larlsr ~ I just did the London to Edinburgh trip and I agree with Alanrow that the advance GNER prices were very good. Look on their website. The cheapest seats were only for a few trains a day, not the complete schedule. However, we used a Britrail Pass for this trip, since we were not sure what day and/or time we wanted to travel and loved the flexibility of just jumping on any old train at any time. And we were using it enough to cover the cost (plus it includes the HEX).

We stopped for a few days in York on our way to Edinburgh - York is well worth a visit as Alanrow said - fantastic city. We did the Edinburgh to London trip on a Saturday morning and had a delightful and scenic journey. Made it back to London by 3:00pm, in time to settle back in at our flat and head out for the evening. The 4h30m trip didn't seem bad at all to us, because we travel long distances all the time.

Stirling, United...
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7. Re: What pass to buy for train travel

The cheap fares on GNER should be available on all trains, but they're quota limited and will sell out quickly on the most popular services. Being willing to travel an hour earlier or later could make a big difference to the fare.

FSM I'm glad you enjoyed your journey and York - looking forward to the Trip Reports!

Denver, Colorado
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8. Re: What pass to buy for train travel


Part of this depends on how much hassle you want to deal with on individual tickets. Most ones cheaper than the horrific list prices require booking in advance for specific trains.

Frankly, I would look at a BR Flexipass myself. Particularly if I decided that a 'stop-off' in, say, York, turned out to be something you wanted to do. Also, as long as the train isn't completely reserved, you can get on any train, so you are not tied to any specific one,or to specific times of day (like 'off-peak.') Note that RailEurope offers free shipping (but still has, if I remember correctly, a handling cost).

Last year, I orderd mine through Rick Steve's, simply because getting one gave me a 20% discount on the merchandise, and I was buying a suitcase. The 20% discount more than handled the shipping cost. The previous year, I ordered through RailEurope.

Note that a BR pass also is good on the Heathrow and Gatwick express trains. If you are staying close to Paddington or Victoria, this may also help in getting you into and out of London if you have enough days on it.

I'm afraid that I've been using BR passes since 1967. Then again, I'm a RR fanatic. I love to ride trains through the countryside, just to see what it's like sometimes. I've found that having a pass gives me a lot of freedom in doing, or not doing, day trips, for example. (OK - the weather today is atrocious - I don't want to try marching about in the wet most of the day. Maybe a nice trip to Bath, where the weather is likely to be better anyway, and I can take a 'hop-on-hop-off bus tour - not on the top, thank you - and I can visit a lovely place. Other places that hit my mind for spur of the moment day trips are Salisbury, and even Penzance if the weather is really foul.)

The point is that you can decide on the spur of the moment what you want to do and where you want to go, depending on what is there when you get there and on the day. Just keep track of the days you've used, and the costly journeys you need to keep some reserved for.

The last three times I was living in Exeter for a year, I made use of the Regional passes. (Devon and Cornwall).

Given my problems with being tied down to particular trains, particularly if I have to change, I go for a pass of some sort whenever I can.

As an example, last November I was in the UK for a short while. I got an 'Off-Peak Senior England Flexipass' good for 8 days in two months. (In the middle of this, I spent 2 weeks in Central Europe.) So, that provided 4 trips to or from LHR to Exeter, where I was staying. (HEX to Paddington, and then train to Exeter, or vice versa.) 1 day to Salisbury to meet with freinds of 40+ years. 1 day to Derby to meet with a friend I've met on TA. 1 day to Sheffield, to meet with other old friends. 1 day that I just wanted to see other things, and went to Penzance and back. That was absolutely spur of the moment. What train I took back from Salisbury, Derby, and Sheffield was up to when our meetings finished and I got back to the RR station to take the next available train, or connection.

Most of this I could have 'booked' in advance, but I doubt that the cost would have been lower. And, I would have had to cut off my friends because 'I'm on the ???.' On the return from Sheffield, the fog was so bad that the connection at Birmingham New Street would have been missed.

Frankly, I don't want to try to calculate what that lot wpuld have cost on a one by one buying ticket basis. Nor do I want to think about the time involved in getting the dratted tickets.

However, as usual, that's only my personal opinion. I have "been there -done that" more times than one can count on one's fingers, but not maybe on one's fingers and toes. LOL!

9. Re: What pass to buy for train travel

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